May 14, 2013
Rose Geranium Duck Egg Sponge
I have some lovely Foodie Friends
Friends who enjoy good food, interesting food, different food and cooking it as much as just eating it. Friends who get excited when they stumble across something a bit different, or who invite you to share a pig-on-a-spit in their backyard.
One of these friends of mine is Rachael, my Hydro Therapist, who is lovely enough to spend each session with me not only overseeing my physical health in the pool, but also my mental health by chatting and gossiping with me about the latest in her Love Life and Food Life too. Many a meal is discussed and disected with the rest of our group, recipes are swapped...and sometimes ingredients as well.
Duck eggs are not something I use regularly. Hen eggs are easily available and are the go-to for every baking recipe so it was very exciting when Rachael offered me some duck eggs to play with for a change.
Duck eggs on the left, hen eggs on the right:
Duck eggs are just perfect for baking, the whites have more protein so they'll whip higher than regular chookie eggs, and the yolks have more fats so they are richer as well. I figured that with such good characteristics as these the best way to show off the little lovelies was in a classic Sponge Cake because it needs both of these attributes to perform their best
The hardest part about finding a recipe though, was the size difference between the two types of eggs. Baking has a fine balancing act between ingredients and I didn't want to mess them up with guess work, and these eggs were big suckers indeed.
I figured instead of trying to do something completely different, I'd follow Michael Ruhlman's guide of cooking to Ratios instead of individual ingredient count.
His basic Sponge Cake Ratio is 1 part Egg: 1 part Sugar: 1 part Flour: 1 part Butter
The only part that is really variable is the amount of butter used. You can use none at all, some or the full amount. Michael insists that it's the method that makes the cake light and airy and the butter just makes it richer and more delicious. I went with a fraction of the butter amount- only because I had forgotten to grab any at the shops that morning :) I would use more next time though, as we sadly know all to well, gluten free baking tends to dry out much faster than the regular version and this would help keep it moist longer
So there is no 'real' recipe for this cake today, instead the magic ratio of Egg:Sugar:Flour:Butter, and a surprise ingredient for adding a lovely floral flavour that permeated the whole cake through and made my kitchen smell divine all day
I started my ratio off by weighing the cracked eggs, they set the benchmark for the rest of the ingredients. Always use room temperature eggs as they whip much better than ones from the fridge.
Now this made enough batter for 1 huge 40 cm cake pan, but smaller, thinner layers would have been by far the better choice. I just happened to break my other same sized pan and didn't want to let my batter go flat while the first layer cooked. If I were you, I would use a more conservative amount of ingredients :)
The magic four ingredients:
You can also use a flavouring medium like vanilla or lemon zest or something yummy
Beat together the eggs and sugar until they are nice, thick, and about tripled in size- this will take about 5 to 7 minutes, but my mixer is pretty strong and yours might take a little longer
Now for my surprise ingredient- Rose Geranium leaves from my Kitchen Garden
I love the scent of this, it's a bit sharper than straight rose, and flavours things quite strongly. You can get it in the herb section of your Garden Centre, or feel free to use you own favourite flavour instead
While the eggs are beating, line the bottom of your cake pan with paper, then with the Rose Geranium leaves.
I made the mistake of not using two cake tins- Big Mistake! The weight of the batter was a bit too heavy and the sponge didn't get the extra lift that it should. If I'd used the two pans I would have had a tower of a cake with a feather light texture instead of a nice cake that had slightly dried out edges by the time the centre was cooked through
The eggs and sugar should be lovely and fluffy by now, leaving ribbons of batter as you move the beaters across the mix
Gently sift over the flour and start carefully folding it through
Drizzle in the melted butter and keep folding it in until it's evenly distributed
See how it's gone nice and glossy now?
Pour the mix into the pans, don't knock it about too much or you will get rid of all the lovely little air bubbles that will help it to rise
Because I made the one larger cake, it didn't bake as evenly as usual. The edges were higher than the slightly sunken middle so I had to trim it up carefully with a serrated knife
As this baked the kitchen filled with the glorious scent of a flower garden- heady, sweet, and when I opened the oven door- almost intoxicating!
Turn the cake over to reveal the leaves underneath. Of course you could eat them, they're not too bad really, but it's a bit chewy and odd to have big bits of greenery in a sponge
Prise out the leaves carefully as they would have sunken a bit into the batter as the cake cooked. I like to leave the pattern as decoration, but you could hide it inside if you prefer
If you were silly enough to use one big pan, cool the cake completely then split it in two
Spread the bottom layer with a nice thick covering of raspberry jam, then if your diet allows, plenty of whipped cream. Stop the cream just a little shy of the cake edge so it can handle compressing slightly when topped and cut
Pop the top layer with the pretty picture on top of the filling, but carefully so you don't squish it all out the sides
Deliciously dust the top of the finished cake with icing sugar for an appetising ethereal effect
Slice very carefully with a very sharp knife indeed to avoid spoiling the loveliness. Not quite perfect looking I know, but it sure tasted good anyway
Mmmm..... so sweetly scented and lovely and light!
So my Dear Readers, have you ever heard of Rose Geraniums, and who are your Fabulous Foodie Friends?
To see some more of my Fabulous Foodie Friends in action, check out Lorraine's story on her long-awaited Book Launch- then go out and buy one for you and all your foodie friends too!